You may have noticed that it’s been a few weeks since I’ve last posted here on Wickipedia. That can only mean one thing: I’ve been busy preparing for another full slate of year-end festivities! Before getting into the countdown, I just want to say a big Thank You to all who have joined me on this website adventure. As Wickipedia turns one year old today, I take a look at the site’s statistics and they are just staggering: 125 posts from five authors, and we just hit 6,000 views from readers in 77 different countries. This site began as a way for me to merely store my thoughts and articles on things related pop culture, but your faithful readership has made this so much more for me. I’ve had many people come up to me this year and tell me how excited they are to read my year-end countdowns. That means a lot to me, and more than invigorates my drive to keep tabs on the world of music every week. So once again, thank you so much to everyone who has helped to make Wickipedia an endeavor about which I am nothing but proud. So with that, let’s get to my favorite countdown of 2014!
2014 was a very interesting year with plenty of familiar faces, but also a lot of spirited newcomers, as well as experienced industry veterans shining like never before. Now that Billboard has released its final Hot 100 chart of the year, it’s time to look back at the hits that defined 2014.
To rank each year’s most popular songs objectively without any genre bias or favoritism towards the earlier months of the year, I devised a point system back in 2011 which grades and orders songs as fairly as possible. Here’s the rundown for how it works:
- Every week, Billboard releases the Hot 100, cataloging the most popular songs based on airplay, digital sales, YouTube presence, and online streaming.
- When the new chart comes out every week, I analyze the chart and update my running totals for each song that has charted in 2014.
- A week at #1 on the chart gains a song 100 points, a week at #2 gets 99 points, and so on down to 1 point for a week at #100.
With Week 52 in the books, I can officially release to you the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014 according to my points-based calculations. Today I will reveal songs 101-91, with another 10 songs being unveiled each day. Let’s begin the countdown with #101!
#101: Paranoid by Ty Dolla $ign f/B.o.B.
Peak: #29 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 933
Starting off the countdown, we don’t have to go very far to see the first of many DJ Mustard productions on this list. The 24-year-old producer first achieved notoriety for lending Tyga’s “Rack City” its beat, but Mustard really broke out in 2014. You’ll see his trademark stamp on no fewer than seven of the 101 biggest hits of the year, starting with this debut single from Los Angeles’ Ty Dolla $ign. “Paranoid” isn’t as upbeat as the other DJ Mustard offerings this year, but you’ll still hear some of those trademark background shouts. For a debut single in a narrow genre, “Paranoid” performed impressively in securing a spot on this countdown.
#100: Studio by ScHoolboy Q f/BJ The Chicago Kid
Peak: #38 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 941
ScHoolboy Q has had a rapid ascension to widespread popularity since I first heard him feature on Macklemore’s “White Walls” late last year. Since then, the bucket hat-wearing rapper released the #1 album Oxymoron, which contained minor hits like “Man of the Year” and “Collard Greens.” As the most successful single off the album, “Studio” dropped the tempo slightly and gave Q his first solo Top 40 hit. Despite only peaking at #38, the track showed great longevity and remained squarely within the 30s and 40s for the majority of its point-gathering chart run. In fact, it was the lowest-peaking song ever to appear on Billboard’s own Year-End Hot 100, which goes to show that peak position continues to mean less and less in these sorts of rankings.
#99: Birthday by Katy Perry
Peak: #17 2014 Weeks on Chart: 18 Points: 958
It would be extremely shortsighted to suggest that Katy Perry’s album Prism was a flop in any way shape or form. After all, it debuted at #1, sold over a million copies, and spawned the massive #1 hits “Roar” and “Dark Horse.” Yet somehow, I can’t help but wonder if Perry is slightly disappointed at the performance of the other three single off the album. “Unconditionally” and “This Is How We Do” both missed the Top 10 as well as the year-end countdown, while “Birthday” just barely snuck in. When it first debuted, I thought it was catchy enough to make a run for the top of the charts, but at the end of the day, the prolonged run of “Dark Horse” doomed “Birthday” to “just” a peak of #17. As I said, this would be a respectable and laudable chart run for anyone not named Katy Perry.
#98: I Don’t Dance by Lee Brice
Peak: #33 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 963
Lee Brice has been a pretty regular fixture on country radio since his breakout hit “Love Like Crazy” was named the #1 country single of the year in 2010. Since then, he has racked up several country airplay #1s, including “I Don’t Dance,” the title track from his 2014 album. By not succumbing to the trappings of the “bro-country” movement (which we’ll see plenty of this countdown), Brice’s ballad rang true with country audiences and quickly became the second-highest Hot 100 peak of his career.
#97: She Looks So Perfect by 5 Seconds Of Summer
Peak: #24 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 968
One of the most noteworthy acts to break out this year, the Australian boy band first gained fame last year as the opening act for One Direction’s world tour. Their self-title debut album became a big hit this year, anchored by the success of their debut single “She Looks So Perfect.” 5SOS have a more rock-oriented sound than their rivals (friends? mentors? I’m not sure) 1D, so their sound is unique enough to distinguish themselves from their British counterparts. Despite name-checking American Apparel several times, this song still manged to be catchy and one of summer’s most unavoidable radio hits.
#96: Amnesia by 5 Seconds Of Summer
Peak: #16 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 970
It’s always funny to me when two songs by one act show up side by side in the year-end countdown, as the same thing happened last year with Luke Bryan’s “Crash My Party” and “That’s My Kind of Night.” But the feat seems much more impressive with 5 Seconds of Summer, especially considering that each of their first two commercially-released singles made the year-end countdown. Not even One Direction was able to do that with “One Thing,” their followup to “What Makes You Beautiful.” So how was 5SOS able to do it? “Amnesia” is a ballad in stark contrast to “She Looks So Perfect,” so it sounded unique enough to not be overshadowed by the latter’s prior success. As such, “Amnesia” achieved a higher peak on the Hot 100 and ended its run with two more of my chart points.
#94 (tie): Jealous by Nick Jonas
Peak: #8 2014 Weeks on Chart: 14 Points: 973
And the winner for Most Unexpected Comeback in 2014 has to be Nick Jonas. It’s been quite a few years since the Jonas Brothers petered out on the charts, so when I saw that Nick Jonas had debuted a single as a solo artist, I had no idea what to expect. But then “Jealous” wound up being quite a catchy track with plenty of hit potential. Throw in his viral underwear photo shoot, and suddenly he had all the ingredients to a surprise Top 10 single. Incredibly, the Jonas Brothers as a collective never had any single make my year-end rankings (their songs tended to be flashes in the pan with high peaks). I have many doubts as to whether there’s a bright future ahead for Nick’s solo career, but hey, Kevin Jonas has been reduced to The Celebrity Apprentice, so this was a successful year for at least one of the brothers.
#94 (tie): Give Me Back My Hometown by Eric Church
Peak: #36 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 973
Although I respectfully disagree, there is a consensus of sorts which says that current country music is more or less a stain on the rest of the industry. The one exception that almost is universally agreed upon is Eric Church, who serves as a critically-acclaimed beacon as to what country music should be. Mixing heartfelt lyrics with the rock sensibilities of 70s country, his The Outsiders album this year was one of the best-reviewed sets in any genre. “Give Me Back My Hometown” was the most successful single off the album, and worked perfectly as a microcosm of the entire album. Starting quiet and tender, the track steadily builds to a powerful climax. Country artists would do well to follow Church’s example in preparing their 2015 singles.
#93: Neon Lights by Demi Lovato
Peak: #36 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 981
After “Give Your Heart A Break” and “Heart Attack” consecutively became Demi Lovato’s most successful singles to date, the pressure certainly was high for her to follow up those successes with another chart-topper. “Neon Lights” seemed to have the right ingredients for me: a danceable beat reminiscent of Chris Brown’s “Yeah 3X” and a timely release at the beginning of the year. However, it never really took off and sputtered just inside the Top 40. For the majority of its 20 weeks on the chart, her rendition of Frozen‘s “Let It Go” was also on the Hot 100, so the double presence probably ended up hurting both singles’ chart runs. It still showed enough longevity to make the year-end countdown though, so Lovato makes it three straight years with a song in the Top 101.
#92: Brave by Sara Bareilles
Peak: #23 2014 Weeks on Chart: 15 Points: 992
“Brave” had one of the longer chart runs in recent memory for a song that didn’t even crack the Top 20. Spending 20+ weeks on the Hot 100 in 2013, Bareilles’ multiple Grammy nominations, including one for Album of the Year, kept “Brave” afloat well into 2014. In fact, the Blessed Unrest lead single didn’t even reach its peak position until after its 30th week on the charts. One of the more noteworthy sleeper hits, “Brave” becomes the first of a few songs this year which also appeared on last year’s countdown. Bareilles’ other single this year “I Choose You” failed to get off the ground, leaving her chart future uncertain.
#91: Love Never Felt So Good by Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake
Peak: #9 2014 Weeks on Chart: 20 Points: 997
Released in the beginning of May, Xscape gave us a collection of previously-unreleased Michael Jackson recordings from his various four-year gaps between albums. To make the lead single more palatable for a 2014 audience, frequent collaborators Timbaland and Justin Timberlake joined forces to make “Love Never Felt So Good” an ample tribute to the King of Pop which fit perfectly in the retro-happy pop music environment. After reaching its #9 peak after just two weeks on the chart, I had every reason to believe that it would descend the chart quickly and not accrue nearly enough points for consideration on this countdown. But against all odds, the radio continued to play this track, and it managed to spend its full 20 weeks on the Hot 100. For those not familiar with the structure of the Hot 100 and wondering why so many of these songs have lasted 20 weeks on the chart, Billboard has a rule where songs spending more than 20 weeks on the chart are removed after they drop below #50. As such, a majority of hits leave the chart in this way, not because they lost all of their popularity.
That’s all for today! The perk of presenting a countdown this way is that each day, the songs will become more and more noticeable and popular. A big thanks to everyone for joining me for songs 101-91 of the 101 Biggest Hits of 2014, and I’ll see you here tomorrow for songs 90-81!